Generations of Play, An Oral History


A Listening Journey

The Toy Association’s “Generations of Play, An Oral History” project, provides the opportunity for the toy and children’s entertainment community to share and record their personal stories. By recording our industry’s stories, we are helping to preserve and showcase the richness of our past and the promise of our future.

Toy History in The Library of Congress

Fifteen stories, originally shared and recorded at Toy Fair New York 2020, are now archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  

Listen below to a few of the stories that were recorded to learn about those that have dedicated their lives to bringing joy to children through play.

Generations of Play: Jay Horowitz

Jay Horowitz president of American Classic Toy and inventor of the Sudoku Cube, tells his good friend and colleague Michael Berke about his career in the toy industry. Jay's grandfather started a toy company in 1901, which his father also joined in 1945, but Jay chose a different path that led him to South America and a world of opportunity.

Generations of Play: Tom Kalinske

Tom Kalinske tells his daughter, Ashley Kalinske, about his career in children’s toys, developing and creating some of the best sellers of all time including Sega Genesis and Mattel’s Barbie and Master of the Universe.

Generations of Play: Julie Kerwin

Julie Kerwin speaks with friend and mentor David Kleeman about the origins of her female action figure company, IAmElemental.

Generations of Play: Richard Levy

Inventor Richard Levy tells his daughter, Bettie Levy, about the highlights of his toy industry career and how he was inspired to create memorable games—oftentimes with Bettie’s help.

Generations of Play: Kevin and Steven Meyer

Brothers Kevin and Steven Meyer remember their grandmother, Mary Meyer, who started the Mary Meyer Stuffed Toy Company in 1933. Her grandkids are the third generation to own and run the business, and her values continue to guide them as the company grows.

Generations of Play: Robert Pasin

Henry Quinn-Pasin asks his father, Robert Pasin, about Radio Flyer, the iconic wagon company founded in 1917 by Robert’s grandfather, Antonio Pasin. Now, Robert is the CWO (Chief Wagon Officer) and is continuing to innovate and grow the family legacy.

Generations of Play: Lynn Potyen

Lynn Potyen tells her friend Mindy Baker about her game store, The GameBoard, and her dedication to using games to build a community to help those with brain health concerns, from Autism to Alzheimer’s.

Listen to the complete stories in the StoryCorps Archive website. The archived files include additional stories told by Jay Foreman of Basic Fun!; Aaron Muderick of Crazy Aaron’s; David Wexler of Creative Diversions; Rick Woldenberg of Educational Insights, Learning Resources, & hand2mind; Adi Golad of Goliath; Dominic Crapuchettes of North Star Games; Alexandra Deegan of Ravensburger North America; and long-time industry veteran Alan Hassenfeld.

Help us celebrate the people who have dedicated their lives to the creation of toys and to chronicle the human connection in the quest to bring joy to children of all ages. Please check back soon for information on how to submit a nomination to tell and record your story at our next live event.